Thursday, December 20, 2012

Doomsday Destination in France

I am a little aggravated that no one bothered to tell me until recently that the village that will survive the end of the world tomorrow, December 21, is in France.  And it was a 14 year old jeune homme bordelais who was visiting my school who shared the news with me.  With a very typically French shrug of his young shoulders and a little exhale of air.  So, Google to the rescue once again.  The village, Bugarach, inhabited by about 200 regular Frenchies, presided over for 36 years by farmer-mayor Jean-Pierre Delord, has quite a cult following at the moment.  Now, I do not read Mayan calendars or Mayan diaries (or however someone happened to stumbled on the fact that the Mayans predicted the end of the world as we know it- evidently the 183rd such prediction).  I don't even know what language all that is written in.  Not English or French, I'm betting.  I pretty much only worry about how to get from point A to point B on a daily basis.  And I just am not going to spend too much time worrying about predictions.  But if the world ends, a tiny village in Languedoc-Roussillon wouldn't be a bad place to be.  They have some great wine in that region.  And I bet they know their way around a stove, too.  I have not been there.  I was close, though, close enough to read about Cathars, the persecuted medieval heretical sect who inhabited the region.  But I don't really even understand that.  There's also The Da Vinci Code and the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and lived in this area.  Good old Nostradamus supposedly visited a near-by town, Alet-les-Bains.  So, the region is not new to out-there ideas and predictions.

Wikipedia doesn't have much on the little village.  The Guardian website seems to have the most information.  Other than some cult stuff that I am afraid to even click on for fear that they will then have my personal information and try to recruit me.  I could be recruited to a small village in the Pyrenees that has lovely little pics and delicious wines, but I am not a big believer in UFOs or ghosts or end-of-world predictions.  Let's face it, I am just way too normal for that stuff.  And, evidently, M. le Maire Delord isn't falling for it either.  The town signs have been stolen several times.  The number of hikers up the mountain have more than doubled.  One resident, Valérie Austin, says she feels like a monkey at the zoo... wondering when someone is going to offer her a banana.  There have been reports that the price of real estate here has skyrocketed, but they are unfounded.  Another villager was quoted as saying "Why would you buy a house if the world was about to end?"  I am with him.  Journalists have booked all the rooms in local inns and B&Bs.  The military police have been called in to try to keep people off the mountain.  No one wants a cult mass suicide or anything stupid to happen.  One Parisian was quoted as saying (probably with a shrug and a little puff of air) "Why come to the only place on earth that will be spared the apocalypse if you want to commit suicide?  Wouldn't that be like trying to drown yourself while wearing a lifejacket?"  C'est logique, n'est-ce pas?
Steven Spielberg was supposedly influenced by the shape of Bugarach's pic and used it as his inspiration for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

 Photograph: AFP

But since Steven and I are not even epals, I can't ask him if that's true or not.  I did watch the movie, though, back in the day. Google to the rescue once again here... The movie came out in 1977 (more back in the day than I thought) and François Truffaut was in it, along with Richard Dreyfuss and Teri Garr.  So, there was a Frenchie in the movie...  Maybe I will see if I can round up a copy and watch that tomorrow night while sipping a little wine from Languedoc-Roussillon.  Perhaps some Pyrenees fromage and baguette.  Charcuterie peut-être.  Then, if the world does end, I will go happy.

(The newest ornament to grace my tree... my friends know me well.  Merci, BK!)

If you are curious what the little village of Bugarach looks like, check out the YouTube video.

Bon appétit and Happy December 21 to all!

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